This is a 3-D flythrough animation showing population density in Manchester. Click on the image to see the video. ( Very low-res, I don’t have space for a high-res version.)
I made this on behalf of Martin Dodge, Geographer at the University of Manchester, who submitted it to the exhibition ‘ Mapping Manchester: Cartographic Stories of the City’. The Exhibition is on at Manchester’s John Rylands Library on Deansgate until January 17 2010.
I used ArcGIS 9.2, census data and a couple of days time to create the animation. ArcGIS does a decent job for the occasional simple flythrough. If you want to do professional 3D animation, like the guys from Arup did for Manchester, you need much better resources in terms of software, data and time. (Envy!)
UK Ordnance Survey has excellent data, and they offer a free service that allows you to embed Ordnance Survey maps, covering the whole of Great Britain, into your web applications.
I did a quick example (click it):
So how does it compare to Google Maps?
- OS OpenSpace is a lot more detailed – it basically contains every footpath in Britain. Most useful for any outdoor activity. Compare for yourself 
- Licensing: Ordnance Survey claims ownership of any derived data you create using OpenSpace . This has caused a lot of controversy, however, Google has a similar clause .
http://openspace.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/openspace/developeragreement.html, clause 5.4
 www.google.com/accounts/TOS, clause 11
This is a map I did for a lecturer in Manchester Business School:
(Click on it for a larger version.)
Fortunately I did not have to draw all this. I used ESRI Data & Maps instead, a data product that comes with ArcGIS, and assembled the content and general layout in ArcGIS.
However, in spite of all of ArcGIS’s capabilities, it is no good for advanced graphics design, so I put it into CorelDraw, which simply is a matter of copy-paste. Then I rearranged a few elements and added a some outlines – finished!
Well, it sounds easy, but there is a lot of trial and error involved, so all in all it took me about a day.